Amongst the Andalucian mountains, where white villages gleam in the sun and gardens groan with olives, avocados, lemons and peaches, you’ll find the welcoming and spoiling Hotel Los Castanos. Tucked away in a relatively undiscovered village of just 100 people, it’s a go-to spot if you want to experience the authentic, cossetting charm of rural Spain.
At this boutique hotel in tiny Cartajima, you’re also treated to some of the most beautiful scenery in southern Europe. Just borrow some maps from delightful owners Di and John and step out of the door to find a number of incredible hiking paths through the rocky and undulating Andalucian countryside. If that’s not your bag, you’re also within striking distance of beautiful historical cities such as Jerez, Cadiz and Seville.
Rooms: Each of the 6 rooms has a balcony, with the 3 Mountain View rooms at the front looking out over the village rooftops and onto the valley. It’s an utterly romantic place and the dramatic scenery surrounding the hotel more than makes up for the lack of TVs – so much so that they’ve even included sketching materials on guests’ demand so that you can capture it! You’ll find whitewashed walls, terracotta-tile floors and charmingly simple and colourful décor, with cast-iron mirror frames and lovely art throughout. While it may be simple, you’ll still find some indulgent touches such as bathrobes, fluffy towels, apples by the bed, and minibars. Some of the rooms have bathtubs as well as showers in their ensuites, and all have gorgeous olive-oil soaps and shampoos.
Food: Don’t be fooled by the humble dining room: owner Di cooks up an incredible menu of local, seasonal produce with excellent results. While we were there we had grilled chicory with a Roquefort sauce and Serrano ham, duck in a Seville orange sauce with garlic mash, and frozen lemon cake. The menu is set (though it changes daily), but Di is always happy to adapt and will run the dishes by you in the morning. The wine list is also fantastic – we heartily recommend eating here for a couple of nights of your stay.
Breakfast, though simpler, is just as good: you get homemade bread, freshly squeezed orange juice, exciting jams, good strong coffee and local cheeses, plus eggs on request.
If you want to stretch your culinary experience of foodie Andalucia, there are plenty of local options – Di and John are more than happy to help you decide. Nearby villages such as Parauta and Alpandeire have welcoming restaurants with rustic Spanish food (think rabbit, wild boar and local lamb), while Ronda has a whole host of cuisines within a 15-minute drive.
When to go: The area has something to offer throughout the year, and Di’s seasonal cooking means you’ll have great fare whatever the month. April and May are particularly popular for the beautiful wild flowers.
Cartajima’s feria (fiesta) takes place at the end of August. It lasts for 4 days and 4 nights. Locals come, as do visitors from much further afield. Dancing in the street starts at midnight, so if you’re looking for total peace, this isn’t the time to visit.
i-escape guest review: “Hotel Los Castanos is one of those rare gems you find in your travels and remember forever. Our experience was memorable and we would love to stay there again. I highly recommend this jewel of a hotel in Andalusia, Spain.”
Andrea, United States (08.06.13)
i-escape gift: a bottle of house wine at time of stay